Tuesday, July 5

Anna X – The Lowry

It could be said that all plays are about identity at some level. Acting itself is about artifice, cultivating a character, creating a believable personality, a person that can convince. In our ordinary lives we wear a mask to hide our true selves and present a version of ourselves we feel people will accept, or even, perhaps, like.

Of course, everything is judged, in these days of social media, by the like. People evaluated by how many likes, shares and comments they gained for an image posted or an opinion given.

Social media identities are as much of a pretence as a real life mask. They are idealised, a Sunday-best version of the real person. Often, the social media personality just wants to create envy, to show off, to be the person they wish they could be. Influencers, YouTubers are the new celebrities but how real are they?

Modern technology is the stuff of dreams and yet it has caused, and continues to cause, such problems, the effects of which we are only just starting to understand. As the play asks, “How did our dreams end up like this?”

This play looks at identity through the prism of modern technology. Ariel, played by Nabhaan Rizwan, is a tech entrepreneur, who has launched a dating app, an exclusive dating app. He has identified that people like to feel special and he has targeted that elitist market.

He meets Anna, Emma Corrin, at a night club in New York. She is different, from Russia, original, unique in so many ways. The fact that she has taboo-busting, outrageous thoughts, fascinates him. She is an artist and has curated the perfect Instagram identity.

The action is played out in front of a high-tech, visually stunning, graphics screen. It made the play seem a bit like a video game and I don’t mean that as a criticism. For a play about imagery, art and technology it was perfect. At one point the actors are left in silhouette and all we have are the images on the screen. All the effects were wonderfully done, and it did not take your attention away from the action. If anything, it gave it more meaning and depth. This is a multi-layered play and this was the gloss on top to make it shiny, bright and modern.

Through the play the two actors, who are on stage throughout, play other parts. There is the tech investor, the girl next door girlfriend and the waste of time programmer who got his job through nepotism.

Emma Corrin was compelling as Anna. She drew you in to this fascinating character with a multi-faceted performance. You could not take your eyes off her, she was magnetic.

Nabhaan Rizwan was the epitome of the cool, laid-back, techie with a certain dry humour, looking for some excitement. Underneath the hip exterior he displayed a fragility, a glimpse of his real self, which threatened to come to the surface.

It was directed with pace and verve by Daniel Raggett who describes it as a, “rom-com with the head of a thriller.”

I would definitely recommend this play. Playing at The Lowry until 14th August https://thelowry.com/whats-on/

Reviewer: Adam Williams

Reviewed: 11th August 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★

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